|Epson Printers - Corvette or Corvair?
Ever seen the movie ‘Diggstown’? It’s a personal favorite, and an acquired taste, but all around, a great little comedy.
Starring Louis Gossett Jr. and James Woods as the protagonists, and Bruce Dern as the “bad guy”, it’s got a familiar story
line to The Sting, just fixed boxing instead of fixed horse races. Why does this matter? It doesn’t, it was just the first time I
ever saw a 1958 Red and White Corvette. Whitewalls, shiny chrome wheels, no top…. Let’s just say they don’t make them
like they used to. There is much about the inkjet printer that is similar to the path of the automobile when you think about it.
The first inkjet printer, was pretty slow, not the sharpest quality, but to the Print for Pay printer, it was a catapult into a whole
new dimension of printing. It combined the power of the printing press with the quality of a darkroom, very much like the
automobile combining comfort of the carriage with mobility of multiple horses. Still, as we move into the new age of inkjet
printing, and a switch from the days of slower printing and lower quality prints, we have to assume and hope that the
“classics” have yet to come.
In 1909, GM purchased Cadillac fortifying itself as a major automobile conglomerate and, adding to their fleet, a luxury
division in Cadillac. Until then it was Ford Motor Co, that led the way, but in GM it found itself a worthy competitor, and the
auto wars began. There were many shining stars in the auto wars (obviously the aforementioned ’58 Vette), but as
consumerism has perpetuated these wars, they have become less about quality, and more about quantity and cost. And
the idea that lighter and faster can replace quality and longevity. I remember when I first started working with inkjet printing
supplies, and trying to remember the different model numbers from each of the bigger names in inkjet printing. HP, Epson,
Roland, Mimaki, Canon, were the start of what would become a rabbit hole to an entire industry with a range from mass
production machines to home printers for my grandmother, who just wanted a nice canvas picture of her with all of her 26
grandchildren. The range was somewhat paralyzing for me at the starting point – so many models and cartridge types.
But I will say, I remember hearing and knowing the Epson Pro 9600 as the first Pro printer I had knowledge on. 8 total
colors (C,M,Y,PK or MK,LK,LC,LM), for 7 cartridge slots, all color specific with a roll capacity of 44” wide. It was the first
printer that someone called a work horse. Ironically, the second printer labeled a “work horse” was the Epson photo 1400,
but that’s another story. The 9600, was the first printer I watched work from start to finish and the printed piece was vibrant
and bright, and I was like a child at a firework show. And that was the 9600. I had no knowledge of the Roland flatbeds, or
the Mimaki Printers, which were, in hindsight, the luxury line of the beginning stages of what should be a long and illustrious
inkjet printing era. The question now becomes, where are we within the era?
On the timeline of inkjet printing, my guess is we’re somewhere in the 1940’s of the auto industry, waiting for that 1948
Tucker to lead us into the decade of the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado, and the 1955 Chevrolet Corvette. For without those, we
wouldn’t get the Shelby Cobra’s, or the Plymouth Roadrunner’s, or the Ford Mustang. The main issue I see is that there
are so many different options offering basically the same service of printing. For the individual user, it seems as they are
drowning in a flooded printer industry trying to compete with the laser/toner/ribbon printers, while also offering photo
printing quality. And for the professional printer, the options are becoming faster, and more expensive, while still enhancing
precision and Fine Art quality. Of course, there have been some “lemons” recently, with print-head failure rates, and paper
feeder issues, along with ink bleeding, but that will always happen (Reference: Ford Edsel!). “People will always have
something that they would like to print”, is being echoed constantly, and until everyone becomes Hebru Brantley, the
preference will always be quality printed art and or products. And massive print shops will always need the latest and
greatest in their machine of preference in order to consistently compete in the inkjet printing industry. The question
becomes, will you be able to spot and differentiate the “Corvette” from the “Corvair”? I know we will be looking.
Joe Ascaridis - Ink2image